Mental Wellness Month: 8 Simple Ways to Support Clients’ Overall Mental Wellness

mental-health

It doesn’t surprise me that January has been identified as ‘Mental Wellness Month.’After some time off and a chance to spend time with loved ones (hopefully), diving into a new year and old routines can feel daunting. For anyone who used the holidays as a chance to avoid responsibilities or pressing matters in their life, this feeling is likely doubled.

It can also be a tough time for clients, who may be counting the months and years as they wait for their immigration status to be determined.

For those caught in limbo, entering yet another new year with uncertainty, missing their families, and not knowing what their future holds is going to take its toll. Even more so for anyone already managing mental health concerns.

What is Mental Wellness?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental wellness as: “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and can make a contribution to his or her community.”

Mental wellness is not the absence of mental health issues or just ‘coping’ with diagnosed mental health conditions. Mental wellness encompasses the full spectrum of characteristics, resources, support networks, and self-awareness that allows people to feel healthy, even during trying times.

This will be different for every individual, depending on their circumstances, cultural background, and several other factors. But it can include:

  • Being able to identify feelings of contentment or gratitude every day.
  • Feeling a sense of resilience to handle whatever life throws at you.
  • Consciously build balance into your day in the ways you need it. This could involve healthy eating and exercise, work/life balance, and making time for social connections.
  • Recognizing the importance of healthy social relationships and connections and maintaining and building these.
  • A sense of confidence in one’s abilities and skills.
  • An idea of things you would like to achieve in life, including goals or a broader sense of purpose.

Mental wellness month is a great opportunity to reflect on our sense of wellness and how we’re ensuring, we’re cultivating it as therapists too. When we feel robust and mentally resilient, we can better help our clients when they’re struggling.

It’s also a chance to think about how we can encourage and support clients who are in transitory positions and feel the stress of their particular situations.

8 Tips to Support Overall Mental Wellness

As therapists and clinicians, we’re trained to identify and recognize when those we work with are in distress and need extra support. Our immigration clients are no different, and even though they may seek out support for one thing, that doesn’t mean we can’t offer support in other, small ways.

These might seem commonplace or small, but they could make a huge difference and be a welcome reminder to anyone struggling with mental wellness.

1. Mindfulness & Deep Breathing

Mindfulness is backed by a wealth of research showing that living in the present moment without judgment can help to promote positivity and enable individuals to better deal with challenges as they arise. There are plenty of helpful resources and guides online for those wanting to incorporate mindfulness into their day, and even just a few minutes of practice can make a big difference.

Three deep breaths is an instant and easy tool that individuals can use anytime, anywhere to help them feel calmer. According to the American Institute for Stress: “Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness.”

2. Gratitude Practice

Even when it feels like nothing is going right, there are always small things to be grateful for. A gratitude practice of simply naming three things you’re thankful for at the end of the day can help us realize this. This practice isn’t about ignoring challenges but about shifting our perspective, so instead of only seeing the big negatives, we can start to find a greater sense of balance. The more you do it, the easier it is to find the good every day.

3. Stay Active

In times of stress, it’s too easy to fall into bad habits, feel unmotivated and forget to prioritize the things that help keep our resilience up and stress levels at bay. Exercise – in any form – has repeatedly been shown to positively impact reducing stress levels and promoting a greater sense of wellness.

4. Connect with loved ones

Social connections and support are vital for mental wellness. Knowing we’re not alone and that there are people who understand what we’re going through can lessen the load of challenges and provide a respite from difficult situations when we need it. It’s easy to neglect these connections when we’re stuck in a negative headspace, but making time for them can help us to shift perspective.

5. Take a Digital Break

There’s been a lot of research into the impact of social media on our sense of mental health and wellness. When struggling with mental wellness, the fast-paced, click-and-scroll style of engagement can exacerbate racing thoughts and stress. Taking a break from living online, even for one day, can significantly improve our mental mood.

6. Eat & Sleep Well

Research is finding artificial ingredients in processed foods contribute to mental issues such as anxiety and depression. Just like staying active, ensuring that we look after our bodies through healthy nutrition can help to support overall mental wellness. It’s also something individuals can have full control over when they feel they might not have control in their lives in other ways.

Sleep is vital for helping our minds and bodies reset, heal and process everything we’ve experienced in the day. When experiencing challenges and high stress, sleep becomes a problem for many people. Along with physical activity and eating well, It’s essential to find ways to improve sleep, to support mental wellness.

7. Check Self Talk

Another significant way to promote better mental wellness that’s not really spoken about is our self-talk. Self-talk refers to how we think and talk about ourselves – internally and externally. Many people tend to speak about themselves negatively, for example, “I’m not good enough” or “I’m too stupid to get through this.” Practicing empathy can help to switch this up. Try saying things like, “I’m doing my best and my best is enough” or “This is hard right now but I know I can get through it.”

8. Plan for the Future

Mental wellness can be boosted by taking back some control over our lives, especially when we feel there are many things we can’t control. Making simple plans for the future can help us o regain some of that control. This could be things like a road trip somewhere new, a get together with friends, or redecorating a room in the home. Plans we can control and make happen can help us to feel positive and give us something to look forward to in the future.

Improving Mental Wellness

You don’t need me to tell you how crucial mental wellness is for a productive and resilient life, but I always find it useful to revisit the basics.

Mental Wellness Month is as good a time as any to return to the simple things that we can all do to keep promoting our sense of mental wellness.

Cecilia Racine: Immigration Evaluation Therapist

I’m Cecilia Racine, and I teach therapists how to help immigrants through my online courses. As a bilingual immigrant myself, I know the unique perspective that these clients are experiencing. I’ve conducted over 500 evaluations and work with dozens of lawyers in various states. Immigrants are my passion, I believe they add to the fabric of our country.

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